Regionalization and Youth
It began, for us, with the CERG Youth Summit in December of 2011 when a small group of youth and adults from all four districts met to imagine what might be possible. And now—many of those things are starting to happen, even those that seemed a bit impossible at the time. Part of the fun of all this is that we've realized we just have to experiment to see what works. And experimenting is kind of fun!
We've had two regional youth service trips going twice to West Virginia in 2012 and 2013 with lots of success. However, we’ve realized that this model doesn’t work as well as we’d like for a variety of reasons and we’re looking for a new model. But, that's what experimenting is all about--sometimes what we learn is that we got it right the first time, and sometimes we learn enough to do better the second.
Last year's joint District Assembly offered us the first chance to see how we might jointly plan a youth event with youth leaders in different districts. For the first time, the youth programming was organized by two youth co-deans, one from each district. That worked so well that we're doing it again this year.
We’ve experimented with how to offer the Goldmine Youth Leadership School, realizing in 2012 that one leadership school wasn't enough for the whole region. So last summer we had two--one east and one west. We are planning to do the same next year even partnering with Canada on this so youth from southern Ontario can have a Goldmine experience too. This program means that both Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence have multiple kinds of trainings available for youth leaders: Fundamentals of Healthy Youth Groups, Peer Chaplain Training, Spirituality Development Con, and, now longer youth leadership school for those youth who want to dig even deeper.
AND—this year an ambitious group of youth and adults are planning the first ever regional con for Presidents’ Day weekend in eastern Pennsylvania. This is going to be a three night con and the first chance for many youth from all four districts to meet each other and learn about each other.
For me, the best part is the collaboration. I love working with multiple groups of youth and adults and am finding that together one group’s ideas feed the creativity of another. Our youth are thinking deeply about what’s most important to them about youth ministry so that they can keep that and simultaneously dreaming big about what’s possible. And it’s always exciting to be part of a group dreaming big. Meanwhile the staff collaboration feeds me too—we also nurture each other’s creativity and see new possibility together. I can’t predict what we’ll all dream up next, but I can guarantee there will be even more exciting stuff ahead for youth ministry in our region.2013 CERG Goldmine West youth